‘The Flight of the Falcon’ by Daphne du Maurier

Armino Fabbio returns to his childhood home, Ruffano, where he is shocked to discover that his brother Aldo did not die during the war, as he had believed, but rather is engaged in preparing a public re-enactment of an infamous moment in the city of Ruffano’s history: the death of the sinister Duke Claudio. The theme of repetition is one which recurs throughout the novel: whilst Armino’s return home is an act of personal and private repetition, his brother’s re-enactment is both public and political. It is the public act of repetition, however, which uncovers the private secrets of the brothers’ family history…

If you’re a fan of Daphne du Maurier, then you should certainly give this lesser known novel a try. It would also suit fans, I think, of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History: it’s a campus novel, which combines the allure of the occult with the whiff of fascism, leaving its reader feeling unsettled and unsure. The narrator is decidedly unreliable, as is the novel’s moral compass; I was constantly forced to reassess my previous assumptions. I found the novel gripping and deeply engaging, and if the sound of secret societies, concealed identities, sex, lies, and murder, all set in an ancient, gothic, Italian university town appeals to you, then I think you might too.

Daphne du Maurier

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